Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why no more Ironmans?

Now that I'm coming up on 3 weeks post-Revolution3 Cedar Point Full 140.6, the recovery is going pretty well. I can kind of run again, but the parts that aren't stiff are still falling apart. During an Ironman, all of the joints in the body sort of expand and inflame, so you literally start falling apart. It takes about a month for everything to really come back together. My first run I could still feel that my hips were totally blown open, ankles were loose as a goose, and every muscle was still stiff. That was almost 2 weeks after the race. Last night I ran 5 miles easy, and there is still some inflammation in my arms/hands that gets uncomfortable. And I can tell my immune system is still very depleted as well. So recovery is going pretty good! Doesn't that sound awful?

So why exactly am I walking away from something that has been a goal, a dream, for the last 4 years?  Well, that's a complex answer.

  • Long recovery periods aside, I will be turning 40 next year. And I don't know how I'm going to feel, everybody says the after-40 athlete is completely different from what I feel now. Ironman training takes a huge toll, and I don't want to put my body and my family through it again.  Maybe after I give it a year or two then my feelings will change, but who knows.
  • Cycling sucks. I don't care if I ever ride 112 miles again. This year I really wasn't motivated to put in the long training time on the bike. I rode about 1000 miles less in training this year than I did last year, and the race day difference only turned out to be 6 minutes slower. But since I wasn't conditioned, I also was done and ready to get off of the bike by about mile 65. So when the last 52 miles of a bike ride really suck....
  • I keep slowing down. My first ironman is still my PR. Last year's swim at B2B was faster than my IMFL swim, but other than that every sport has gotten slower every time. At Rev3 I had a personal worst time in every sport and my worst time overall - I trained for a sub-4 hour run split and turned in my slowest marathon since my very first one in 2009! Even my training runs this year were all considerably slower than the steady 8 minute pace I put up last year. If I was seeing improvements in any aspect of any sport I might have a reason to continue. But every race gets slower and more painful, not to mention harder to recover from.
  • I can run more!  Back in the spring I volunteered and ran 31 miles at the Umstead 100 ultramarathon, and it really made me want to get back into trail ultra's. I have to chase this slowly, and it deserves a post of its own. But I am looking forward to logging some high mileage months in the future. Starting with the New River 50k coming up October 11!
  • I can swim more! Open water swim racing got to be really fun this year, with the Lake Erie exception. I absolutely loved the weeks where I got to practice 4 times with the RAM team. Doing lots and lots of swimming only makes me want to swim a lot more. Again, biking gets in the way.  My teammate Dani finished the 12 mile open water Swim Around Charleston in 5:06 this past weekend, so I've kind of got my eyes on that for next year with another teammate. But that's another post for another day.
  • Next year we'll have to see how it all plays out. I bet I will still do some triathlons, maybe (probably) a half iron. And maybe even some charity rides when the weather is nice in the fall, or spring. But I can reliably assure you I will not be training for a century ride.

Specifically, statistics show that most people who love doing Ironmans tap out after only 3. I've done 3 ironmans in the last 4 years, and it has been very rewarding and incredibly fulfilling. Knowing the statistic, I really wanted to do at least 4 ironmans total. But swimming and running are so swipe right these days, and biking is just so scary, I can't see doing a 4th ironman anytime soon.  I'm not going to completely rule it out in case I suddenly start loving the bike again, but mentally a lot of things will have to change for me before I ever agree to do another one.

For now, I added the last link onto the Iron Leg this past weekend. I got the Rev3 logo with a roller coaster car from a finishers visor added below the Battleship from last year.  I'm actually a bit disappointing with how it turned out, which is completely inline with my performance in the race itself. The coaster car is a pointing device, and those should be pointing towards the front of the body. The R3 should be smaller and to the left. As it turned out, this one is actually wider than the battleship when they should be the same width, and they kind of created a V with some open space. I might fill in the open space with a Ferris wheel like the race medal, or maybe put the 140.6 in block letters. so the effect is there and the art is good, but the composition needs to be salvaged.

The entire Iron Leg

The roller coaster car

Big, bloody, blue R3
I'll put up more pics after it heals up. For now it means another 2 weeks out of the pool.

Ironman has been a very worthy and fulfilling journey, but it is a journey that has now come to a close. Now we'll have to figure out what kind of fun adventures I'm going to tackle next!


CautiouslyAudacious said...

After the 1st one I said no more after the 2nd one I said no more and I have absolutely no time to train for one right now, it's a miracle if I get to train for a sprint but I have to say a 3rd one will always be calling my name, I feel I have something to prove after what happened to me during the last one. I totally get everything you're saying and these are all valid points and you need to listen to your body! Way to go on doing 3 you are part of a very small population! Although I love the bike it's my favorite of the 3 I probably feel about running how you feel about cycling but it's been the sport I have the most time for these days so I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. :-) Enjoy your recovery and what ever your future athletic endeavors hold for you, you earned it!!

Abby said...

Your reasons for not doing another and focusing on other things sounds wonderful. I hope that you stay super happy with that decision.

Tea said...

Enjoy the time with the family. Enjoy no more 8 hour training days. Enjoy doing what you want when you want. There are so many choices of events and ways to remain competitive. There's no reason to do things that you don't absolutely love.

Good decision. :)

RockStarTri said...

You will race iron again. You will miss it and it will be an itch you need to scratch. I'm personally getting itchy.

BTW: My daughter joined the tri club at Duke.I'm going to find out her schedule in the spring and maybe head down to Cauwlina to race in the spring. They do only sprints or Olys but that might be enough to get me back in the game.

Dana said...

Our bodies were not designed for Ironman competitions. It is amazing how many people I know that are avid runners and have replaced one or both knees, pulled tendons, shin issues....What is wrong with just walking? You know, the turtle won the race. Yes, I will continue being a turtle. I can go on and on says the fat girl.

J. L. said...

Great write up on the recovery and excellent reasons for not wanting to do another Ironman. My only question "why do you feel the need to post that degrading picture of Einstein?" Poor taste but it speaks volumes as to the type of person you are. While ironman may always be in your title so is ignorant.

Dana said...

My son saw that yesterday and said, "Mom, why are you looking at that. It has bad language, you shouldn't look at that." I just told him it was an advertisement.

Amber said...

I think those are all really good reasons. I have to say I drastically decreased my running this year and it's amazing how much time it freed up! I know I will train for more marathons (and hopefully another 50km ultra in the future) but for now it's nice to have time to pursue other things. Also I've really upped my strength training the last year and can see a big difference in my body shape because of that!